Houston Astros left-hander Framber Valdez had moments last season when he pitched like an ace, often doing so when Houston was in dire need of an effective performance from a starter.
On Saturday against the visiting Detroit Tigers, Valdez delivered an effort that could qualify as underappreciated.
With Tigers left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez pitching brilliantly, Valdez weaved his way in and out of trouble. He kept the Astros in contention long enough for them to mount a two-run, eighth-inning rally in a 3-2 victory.
The Astros can sweep this four-game series and their seven-game homestand with a win in the finale for both teams on Sunday.
Valdez allowed nine hits and one walk over six innings yet surrendered only two runs. It was a display of maturation, because in seasons prior, he might not have weathered such a storm.
“Yeah, that’s definitely a thing of maturity,” Valdez said. “In the past, I would give up one or two hits and I would lose my focus. Now I can give up four or five hits and stay focused and continue working on the game.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker added: “What I saw more than anything is he didn’t get frustrated. Sometimes young pitchers, when they’re giving up hits that are dribbling through there, sometimes they can start feeling sorry for themselves or it’s a bad day or bad look. That’s where guys mature. It’s like, OK, they’ve gotten some hits. It’s time for me to not let them push any across the plate. He kept battling and battling. That’s one of the best battles that I’ve seen him exhibit.”
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 4.15 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros on Sunday. His previous outing not only marked his second consecutive quality start, but his 6 2/3 scoreless innings marked his longest appearance with Houston.
Odorizzi allowed four hits and one walk with three strikeouts in a 3-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on May 2, on the heels of allowing one run on one hit and one walk with four strikeouts over six innings in a 5-1 victory at Texas.
Odorizzi is 6-2 with a 3.35 ERA over 14 career starts against the Tigers, including an 0-1 record and 5.40 ERA in two starts against them last season.
The Tigers will seek to avoid their fifth consecutive loss while utilizing an opener in the series finale. Detroit manager A.J. Hinch on Saturday did not name an opener for Sunday, announcing that a decision would be made later.
Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera recorded his 600th career double in the third inning, driving in Javier Baez and Robbie Grossman to pass Hall of Famer Frank Robinson for 19th place on the career RBI list with 1,813.
Cabrera joined Hall of Famer Hank Aaron and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols as the only players in history with 3,000 hits, 600 doubles and 500 home runs.
“Miggy is making history, and we’re following along,” Hinch. “Every day we’ve got to remind ourselves to enjoy it. We’re seeing historical things with him. We’re enjoying it, but I know he wants to enjoy it in wins.”
–Field Level Media